Madman Theory

Digby

Via Jake Tapper yesterday:

There are conversations under way as to what we will discuss, you know, what we will negotiate over, what things will be on the table. But what we said is – open the government, pay our bills and let’s have this honest conversation,” said Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, of Illinois, who serves as Senate Majority Whip.

What Durbin does not want to see is catastrophic tactics taken every time a major policy or debt ceiling negotiation fails.

“This is going to come over and over again. And if each time we lay off 800,000 federal workers, or end up interrupting the services of this government, or jeopardizing our international credit rating, it’s disastrous for a great country like America,” said Durbin.

“The president is trying to establish a standard of conduct that is reasonable and bipartisan and puts everything on the table. I think that’s the way to approach it,” said Durbin.

Not that I think there’s anything wrong with establishing a standard of conduct that is reasonable. I just can’t for the life of me figure out what will keep the GOP from doing this again if after all is said and done they end up getting yet another round of spending cuts (whatever they are) for their trouble. Why won’t they see that as proof that they can get at least some of what they want as long as they are prepared to bring the government to the brink whenever possible?

I guess everyone can pretend that making the GOP publicly vote for a temporary CR and agreeing to extend the debt limit before the agreement to cut spending (or whatever this “conversation” produces) is announced will fool all of them into thinking they lost and they’ll be so demoralized they’ll change their ways. And it’s true that the Tea Partiers are pretty dumb. But I wouldn’t count on it.

A coupla “No Labels” congressmen talked to Chris Matthews yesterday as well. Matthews asked what their exit strategy was — something that would “at least get us through the holidays”

Republican Ribble(Wisconsin):You know Chris, I actually met with the Speaker and had a good conversation with him. My own plan would be to address the true drivers of our long-term fiscal condition which would be entitlements. I think there’s truly broad agreement on some of the reforms necessary to actually reform Social security and my advice tot he speaker is that we look at that one kind of completely drill right into it and craft the policy and take that 9.6 or 10 trillion dollars of unfunded obligations and secure and save Social security for the next 75 years. It can be done, this is a perfect time to do it because you have divided government so one side or the other will not be forcing a fix on the other side.

Matthews said the president isn’t willing to just sit down and just “fix” entitlements. That he wants something in return, some kind of revenue or something.

Democrat Schrader(Oregon):I don’t think congressmen on [either] side of the aisle expect this to be my way or the highway. That’s the beauty of the rank and file discussions that are going on.We’re talking about listening to each other for a change. Entitlement reform includes not only dealing with reforms to a system that was developed before the baby boomers became a reality or a concern but the revenue sources were also developed before the baby boomers became a concern… the president’s willing to talk, I think Republican leadership’s willing to talk, it’s just that the extremes at both ends are controlling the dialog.

Yeah the liberal “extreme” is really wielding its massive power in this one …

I think it’s hilarious that they think the baby boom requires that they “fix” SS for the next 75 years. I’m fairly sure all of us baby boomer assholes will be long gone by then, but you never know. Maybe Obamacare will keep us all alive past 130. Unfortunately, the longer we live, the poorer these “reforms” will make us. (Oh wait, they plan to make old women the new “welfare queens” to be derided as parasites by right-wing assholes everywhere, so we’ll at least be good for something.)

The question of why these people feel the need to “fix” something that isn’t in crisis and is contributing absolutely nothing to our current woes (like 10% real unemployment) is probably best addressed to Pete Peterson and the rest of the bipartisan political establishment that keeps waving Social Security cuts around like a great big bloody piece of raw meat every time they feel the need to “do something.” I certainly cannot explain this ridiculous obsession.

Those No Labels guys are organizing around this. The idea seems to be that they will vote for a temporary reprieve of the hostage crisis with the understanding that Grand Bargain negotiations will immediately commence. The New Dems are very excited:

Joined dozens of Reps & Dems as @NoLabelsOrg Problem Solvers to urge Congress to end this shutdown.#FixNotFight #ga12 pic.twitter.com/lLbcpvGcii
— John Barrow (@repjohnbarrow) October 10, 2013

Here’s the latest dishonest, unctuous economic gibberish from the Very Serious Paul Ryan:

ryan
I’m going to guess I don’t need to tell my readers what a load of BS that is, and if you read on you’ll see it’s even worse than you think. The fact that he says cutting Social security will pay down the debt when it has its own funding stream should be enough to make anyone throw this little “Case for Structural Reform” on the rubbish pile and set it on fire. But the rest of that stuff about interest rates is just daft. (Who does he thinks owns the social security debt, Auric Goldfinger?)

But he does use a specific term in this ridiculous screed that is worth noting, at least in passing. He calls this problem “structural” which you may recall is the same word used by the president lo those many years ago when he first described his grand bargain:

What we have to do is to take a look at our structural deficit, how are we paying for government? What are we getting for it? And how do we make the system more efficient?”

Meanwhile the Democratic pundits are getting very excited:

VAN JONES: Well, you know, I can’t debate with you about the past, because you were here and I wasn’t here. But I do think this president is smarter than people are giving him credit for.

I think this president looked at that Republican Party, saw a lot of dysfunction and said, “I’m not going to negotiate with that Republican Party” and held them at bay, and now you’re seeing better voices in the Republican Party come out. You saw Paul Ryan with a very constructive proposal today. Coburn’s coming out.

Right. The President held off the crazies who insisted on defunding his signature policy, something that anyone with two functioning brain cells knew would never happen, and now they’re all ready to sit down and talk about cutting Social Security with the Very Serious Paul Ryan. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so awful.

We don’t know that this can actually go anywhere. Just because a bunch of mushy no-labels losers are getting together means nothing in itself. And just because Paul Ryan has decided to try to talk sense into his loony Tea Partiers and persuade them that they can make the Democrats do their dirty word for them if they play their cards right, doesn’t mean they will listen. They never have before.

But the idea that the President did something wily by refusing to defund Obamacare is pretty funny. If anyone’s done anything wily, it’s the Republicans who deployed Nixon’s madman theory and seem to have persuaded the Democratic establishment that if they just pretend a “deal” to cut Social Security (and God knows what else) isn’t a vindication of their shutdown strategy, the crazies will never do it again. I eagerly await the Democratic victory dance.  They really know how to cha-cha-cha.

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